GHOSTS IN MY CLOSET

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My wife and I have been sitting around hashing out the next thing to do on this web site. In our talks we have decided that we needed to address the issues that we have faced together over the years that have led to not only the creation of this web site but the restoration of our marriage. This part of the web site is not an easy thing to write but, it is a necessary work that we feel must be shared with all who come through our lives and view this web page. We would never have come to this conclusion if it hadn't been for the years behind us that have been difficult as well as a blessing. We owe the results of this work to our Heavenly Father who has given us a second chance and the best years of our lives that are still ahead of us. We hope that we can be of help to all those who have suffered in times of crisis such as the Vietnam Veteran. We by no means think that we have all the answers. But, we know what a painful walk we have experienced together and the doubts and fears that we have struggled with over the years. Not only have we suffered as a couple but our children have suffered as well. And we hope that this information will set the stage for recovery and restoration to all those other families who have gone through what we have.

We will share with you our thoughts from the beginning. Our hope is that this will help even one person out there who is still struggling through the memories of war.







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GHOSTS IN MY CLOSET

MY SIDE

In my case, I don't know what it is called. Some has said Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am not sure though. Regardless of what one would want to label it, I have faced the ghosts and have come through on the other side and I am on the mend. This is not meant to be a copout nor is it meant to ask for pity, far from either. Honesty and the reality of my past has come at a terrible price that I have had to pay. Each of us is affected differently by trauma. In no way am I going to belittle the next guy who might have gone through more than I did. There is always going to be someone who is in worse shape than ourselves.

Thirty-two years have passed and I have come to realize that I had some problems. These problems were put, as I have always said, on the back burner or to put it another way, behind a closed door. No one got in and nothing came out. The stage for this way of thinking was set when I came back home to the United States of America in August 1969.

I was proud of being a veteran and fighting for my country but, the people back home were not. I always told myself that if I can make it through Vietnam, then I can make it through anything. I felt that I was in control of my surroundings again and I was in control of my life and my new wife's life. To be honest, I was afraid of loosing my new wife who I loved very much. I don't know why I felt that way because she never gave me one reason to even think such thoughts. When I was in Vietnam, the thought of her was with me everyday. She was my goal in life.

I became over protective of her and as well as my children as they came along. All that I could think of was that they could be gone in the blink of an eye. I had seen death at it's worst and saw first hand how fast someone could loose their life and I was afraid I would loose them just as easily. I was the lion in my own home. No one was going to take what was mine away from me.

I would get very angry. Sometimes that anger would really be rage and it could last for days. If someone pissed me off, I felt that I didn't need them. I would make my wife cry, and not let it bother me. I punished my children more severly than necessary a few times because of that anger. Then try to justify why I had.

If I had a plan to do something, I did it. If someone was in my way, I went over them or through them. It was get the f... out of my way.

I became driven to succeed in life. I wanted money, recognition, and I was driven to get what I wanted no matter what the cost.

I didn't have many friends either. I didn't feel that I needed them. As long as I had my wife, that's all I needed I thought.

I didn't care to associate with anyone who wasn't a veteran. I didn't want to hear their thoughts or comments. I became an inclusive man to my own detriment. All the while, my family suffered because of these fears and the need to be in control that possessed me.

My daughter still has a major problem with me today but, I think my son somehow is starting to understand. What is the sad part of the whole thing, I thought I was right. I never even dreamed that I was driving those who I loved so much away from me.

It has been hard for me to deal with myself these last few months. The hardest thing of all is that I didn't know that I was wrong. I didn't know that I was driving my family away. The worst part of it all is that I can't change what I did yesterday. I have to carry around those memories and only hope I can mend the very ones that I was protecting all those years, my family.

But the flip side to this story is that when I found my old buddies from Vietnam, I began to see my life so much differently. I could talk to them and we understood how each other felt. My greatest inspiration is 'Alabama'. The two of us have talked, cried, and laughed over the time we spent in Vietnam. It's like Alabama said, "I live Vietnam every day because I drag it around with me every day. But, I don't go to bed and let that shit bother me anymore." (Alabama is an amputee from Vietnam). I never could talk with my wife about those days that I spent there. But, in her editing of this web site, she has heard all the good and bad stories that have been the ghosts in my closet.



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MY WIFE'S SIDE

I can say this in all honesty, when Clarence came back from Vietnam, he wasn't the same guy that had left. He had become edgy and in away cold in the way he acted and thought about many things. But, I knew that he loved me and wanted to take care of me. I am a pondering type of person who thinks about every detail. Sometimes that is not so good. Other times, I have discovered something about myself or someone else and try to take opportunities to work on a change if necessary. With that in mind about my personality, I have studied my marriage in debth and never could understand why my husband was the way he was. Until Clarence began this web site, so many times my questions had no answers.

I loved Clarence from the moment we met. Our relationship grew and marriage was our next step. When he came home on leave from Vietnam, I noticed his changes and never thought much more about them. As time went by, his behavior was over bearing and so controlling that at times I thought I was sufficating.

When his temper flared, I became fearful of that temper and tried to be the fixer and never make mistakes because I surely didn't want to be on the tail end of that tongue lashing he could give.

As our children grew, he became the same way with them. As long as he had a tight control on all of us, every thing went smooth in our lives. Just as he has stated before about his personality, that is truely the way he was. I was always the opposite. We never were physically abusive to each other or our children. It was just that when discipline came, as needed, he didn't know how to do it. Clarence and I became verbally abusive to one another over time which is just as bad as physical abuse and left our souls to bleed. Our daughter, who is the oldest of our two children, never felt that her Dad loved her. Most of the years of her life, because of his ambition to succeed, they failed to bond and he didn't give her the recognition and praise that she needed from him. Our son, who is four years younger than our daughter, came at the height of our troubles.

Clarence was always the provider and he met every physical need we had. But, because of his emotional void he was carring inside, we all starved to death for his attention and we finally had to seek out the fulfillment of those needs in other avenues. With our children it was sports, school activities, and friends when they were young. As they grew older, they just didn't care what we thought and did every thing to please themselves. I was never one with a roving eye so I never desired any other man but my own. I loved my husband. I filled in my needs with family and friends. To say that we suffered emotionally is an understatement. It is amazing what the human mind can go through and still function in this world.

When I turned forty years old, I came to a crossroads. Either I stay and work this marriage out or I go and start over again. That breaking point led me to the cross of Calvary where I gave all of it to God. That was the greatest decision that I could have made and the best. God has given me the strength and heart to see this marriage through to the end and the hope that one day all the wrongs would be made right and new life would come to our relationship. If anyone can bring life from death, He can.

So, for the past eleven years, I have waited and watched. I grew in my faith and prayed for the day I hoped would come. That day came when my husband walked into the kitchen and was grumping about not seeing Charlie Battery in all the web sites he had been visiting over the Internet last June, and I told him that maybe he should do something about it and make a web site himself. And the rest is history.

When he began to pour out his memories and feelings to the guys he talked with over the phone, I knew God was answering my prayers. I knew that Clarence and I was on a road that was a healing road for our marriage and hopefully that of our children. It has been an experience that I will never forget. No one will ever know the miracles I have seen right before my eyes nor understand them if they haven't walked the same road that I have.

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IN CONCLUSION

The stories of fellow Veterans maybe different than ours and we are sure they are. Yet, what we have found is that there are threads of our story running through so many other life stories. There is help available if we would care to look. The VA is a good starting point for every one who is a Veteran. Read all that is available to learn to understand the issues of Veterans. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder comes in all sizes and shapes and don't deceive yourselves in thinking that every one else is wrong and you are right. That is the first symptom to give itself away. Excessive anger and rage is another to pay attention to, unusual fears, and the need to control are more symptoms to look out for.

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HONOR WHERE HONOR IS DUE

Sometimes it is necessary for someone to stick their necks out and expose the myth that men don't cry and women don't care. Good men do cry and most women do care.

Our story is just the tip of the ice berg. One of a million stories where hearts have been broken and mended by the Grace of God. Jesus is the true champion in our story.

We feel that the wives of Vietnam Veterans need to be recognized and given the honor they so richly deserve. Those who stood by their husbands in times of crisis are never mentioned and made to feel that their time and effort have value. We want to say you are valuable and worthy of this honor that we are expressing.

Vietnam Veterans have paid a tremendous price for our country. We have earned medals and some measure of honor from our country, yet not nearly enough. We came home in need of council and direction and discovered, in most cases, that we had to find our own way. In the process, some of us found ourselves some pretty terrific wives who have tolerated our shortcomings and needs. We think that giving them recognition is a small but, necessary honor that is their due after all they have gone through for us. It is time to correct the record. Let us stand up and say 'Thank You' to our wives who have weathered the storms with us and are still standing by us today. They are our true National Treasure from Almighty God who created these wonderful creatures for us to love and hold dearly.

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